I had been to Jordan when I was a little girl, 11years old to be precise and had always wanted to go back. My parents had taken us there over Christmas. It was my first time in such a remote country, amongst new people, a new culture, and I loved every minute of it. My Dad was written a thesis on the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by TE Lawrence, and this trip was both a pilgrimage and an excuse to do first ascents on the majestic sandstone big walls that define Wadi Rum – a desert 4 hours south of Amman.
I love doing first ascents. They don’t have to be big or worldclass, I just love the feeling of setting foot where no one else has set foot before. Since I was there in 1987, lots of climbers had visited Wadi Rum and put up new routes. So, I didn’t know if we would find anything new to climb. But thanks to our local contact, Attayak, we found a line. It was far away and hidden in a dark corner but it was unclimbed and that was all that mattered.
Upon returning from Antarctica, I flew to Thailand to meet up with Adam and two friends of ours, Sarah Garlick and Jim Surette. Sarah was my partner for the trip, Jim the cameraman, and Adam the rigger for Jim. We went to Thailand first to train and be in shape for adventure climbing in Jordan. After a week there, we shifted from exotic-palm tree-beaches-thai food and thai massage to a different type of exotism in the middle east. Until the last minute, we weren’t sure we would go to Jordan because of the uprisings going on all over the Middel East. But local contacts swore that nothing was really going on, and indeed, we never witnessed anything.
Upon arriving in Jordan, I reconnected with my childhood memories. It was amazing to experience this feeling of going back in time, thinking that I had been there 24 years prior, yet everything seemed the same. The adults were probably the kids I had played with during my first visit, houses had been built, but overall, nothing seemed to have changed.
We climbed around Wadi Rum, getting our bearings and learning to feel somewhat comfortable on the loose rock – the rock there is sandstone and what makes sandstone solid is its the cement/matrix, but there is non there, so anytime you drop a rock, it instantly turns to sand. With only two weeks in Wadi Rum, we soon decided to check out that potential line Attayak had told us about, since this was the goal of our trip.
Sarah and I checked it out one day, climbing a little ways up it, to make sure it would go. We felt confident and excited about it, so after a rest day, we returned, all geared up to get to the top. The rock was unpredictable and quite loose, which made for real adventure climbing in a remote place. We topped out by sundown and made our way back to our packs by rapping in the dark to the anchors that Adam had bolted on the way up. We named the route “Uprising” in view of the events going on in the Middle East in February 2011.
We enjoyed more climbing and visited Petra for the remainder of our stay.
I loved every moment of this trip, the adventure, the memories of my youth, sharing these times with great friends and with Adam. I am already looking forward to another adventure, rock climbing where no one has been before.
Read more and view the video here